Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Washington read

Washington read -- n. The perusal of a book in a bookstore that consists of checking the index for references to oneself and reading only those parts of the book.
The power elite in Washington openly and gleefully admit to the practice of "the Washington read": it is as if it's a sign of one's power that he (1) has no time to read books but (2) has reason to suspect that he's important enough to be written about and (3) is powerful enough to mock those who might care about what words mean.

Owning up to the practice may be honest, but bragging about the Washington read is churlishness masquerading as sophistication.

Yet it's not the greatest sin committed by politicians and pundits when it comes to the world of books. Far more cynical is the practice of taking a work of nonfiction and pretending it supports a given policy preference (though it's not as bad as using a work of fiction for support of one's policy).

It happens too often, and too infrequently do the media call the politicians--and themselves--on it. I take a closer look at the practice--with actual cases of the abuse--here.

--Marshal Zeringue